I derive considerable selfish joy from many sources of literature and art. I say selfish because I live under the delusion that I am the only one who has discovered a particular piece of literature or art and, having so discovered, I have been entrusted the divine task of bringing it to the ignoramuses. Of course, there is no divinely ordained task entrusted to me. It is my delusion.
One of my favorite reading obsessions has been Vikramovarshiyam by the great Kalidas. I wrote about it once before on May 13 last year. This is how I introduced it:
The edition that I am reading was published by Ramnarayan Lal Benimadhav of Allahabad. Unfortunately, it does not mention the year of publication but I suspect it has to be the early to mid 20th century. It was priced at three rupees fifty paisa.
Reading a great epic poet and dramatist whose vintage is traced to anywhere between the first century before the current era to the fourth century current era, demands that one declutter one’s mind of 21st century constructs. However, Vikramovarshiyam remains remarkably accessible.
I also said this: It is obvious that as a poet and dramatist, Kalidas considered it very important to be nearly cinematic in his descriptions of whatever situations he was describing. He combined his profound knowledge of the art and grammar of poetry with the power of observation.
In Vikramovarshiyam, there are a couple of lines relating to King Pururva searching for his love Urvashi. In his quest he comes upon a mountain called Gandhmaadan. A forest at the foot of the mountain is forbidden for women but Urvashi chooses to enter it nonetheless. As soon as she enters she turns into a vine.
I like the fact that Kalidas notices details such as the geology of the mountain. In addressing the mountain the king says, “O crystalline mountain awash in bright streams and covered in colorful flowers where angelic singers’ songs elevate you even higher show me where my beloved is.”
Granted that there is considerable ornamentation in the language but its picturesque rendering is quite striking. Like all that Kalidas wrote this one too is cinematic in a magical sort of way. Imagine a mountain made of crystals and awash in bright streams with covered flowers where the high pitch singing by angelic singers create an illusion of even greater elevation. I can see the shot in all its glorious detail. As I said this demands that you declutter your mind of the 21st century constructs.
Reading such ancient texts have a lulling effect on my senses as my mind feels considerably slowed down. It is intoxicating. I need a creditor’s call to be brought back to 2013.